Most people have a lot of expenses after suffering a personal injury. In addition to medical care you also may need to find a new vehicle, pay bills and make up for wages you lost out on while recuperating from your injuries. Personal injury law was designed with those specific types of compensation (damages) in mind.
There are specific steps you can take as a personal injury victim to ensure you get the money you need to make yourself whole physically and financially. There are also missteps you can make that could potentially jeopardize your case.
If you’ve suffered a personal injury, make sure to stick to the recommended best practices for injury claims.
Document the Accident as Best You Can
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you can safely assume the other driver’s insurance company is going to attempt to challenge your story to some degree. They’re either going to attempt to paint you as the at-fault driver or at least trying to make you seem partially culpable.
Even if the insurance company can’t shift the blame entirely to you, they will try to make use of comparative negligence laws. Those essentially say if you share part of the blame you only get part of the settlement. If the court decides the accident was 20 percent your fault, your ultimate settlement or verdict will be reduced by 20 percent.
The best way to prevent inaccurate and unfair characterizations of your accident is to thoroughly document the scene. Take a lot of pictures of the damage and the position of the vehicles. If there are witnesses around do your best to get their contact information so you or your attorney can contact them later to get a statement.
In many cases police will arrive at the scene of an accident, especially if someone is injured. Make sure to clearly explain the accident to them and give your side of events. Afterwards you or your attorney should get the police report if there is one.
The more evidence you can gather and the sooner you can get witness testimony the better. Things get cleaned up quickly after a car accident – law enforcement and other motorists don’t want to suffer the slow downs accidents can cause any longer than is necessary. Witness memories also get foggy as time goes on, so the sooner you speak with them the better.
Get Medical Care and Your Doctor’s Notes or Report
One of the most common mistakes injury victims make is not going to the doctor or waiting too long to receive medical care after an injury. Doctor’s assessments are important for multiple reasons.
The court is much more likely to trust a trained medical professional’s assessment of your injuries. Ideally, your doctor will attribute your injuries to the accident. A medical professional can also provide an estimate for how much it will cost to treat your injury and your ongoing medical costs, such as rehabilitation, surgery or physical therapy.
Your doctor can also attest to how your injuries may affect your future earning potential. If it’s necessary to argue that your injuries are going to prevent you from returning to work or will impede your career growth, you’ll need a doctor’s assessment to convince the judge or jury.
The defense will also argue that your injuries weren’t that serious if you didn’t seek medical attention, painting your personal injury lawsuit as frivolous in nature.
Don’t Accept the Insurance Company’s Initial Settlement Offer
The amount of money you need to recover will vary based on your injuries and the extent of damage your car suffered in the accident. People often don’t realize how much money they will need until days, weeks or even months after their injury.
The insurance company uses that delay to their advantage. You may be contacted by a claims adjuster who wants to settle your claim as soon as possible after the accident. Their goal is to get you to agree to a small settlement before you realize just how expensive your treatment will end up being.
The insurance company knows you need money fast if your car was wrecked and you’re unable to work. You have bills to pay plus you have all these additional new costs due to your accident.
Don’t accept the initial offer until you’ve had a chance to speak with an injury attorney experienced with your type of accident. A personal injury lawyer can provide guidance based on their previous experience with similar accidents and injuries. It may turn out that the insurance company is making you a fair offer, but their claim settlement offer may also end up being far less money than you’ll actually need to support yourself during your recovery.
Contact an Experienced Accident Attorney in Atlanta
At the Law Offices of Johnny Phillips, we’ve helped hundreds of Atlanta area personal injury clients facing situations like yours. You may have been injured by a negligent driver, careless property owner or unsafe business, but the challenges you’re facing are universal. Regardless of the scenario, you can assume the responsible party’s insurance company will want to minimize your claim payment. Speaking with an experience personal injury lawyer is the best way to ensure you get the most for your claim so you can fully recover.
Contact the Law Offices of Johnny Phillips for a free consultation by calling 833.564.6693. We know money may be tight, which is why we represent our clients on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay us unless we win you the compensation you deserve.